Former Connecticut church sold for benefit of local Muslim community

By Karin Hamilton
Posted Oct 23, 2014
Trustees of the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center, Inc. with the Rev. Audrey Scanlan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut at the real estate closing for the property in Avon, Oct. 21. Center: Khamis Abu-Hasaballah, Ph.D., President of the FVAMC Board of Trustees, with his wife, Noora Brown, M.A., chair of the FVAMC Interfaith Committee. Right of Khamis Abu-Hasaballah, Canon Audrey Scanlan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.

Trustees of the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center, Inc. with the Rev. Audrey Scanlan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut at the real estate closing for the property in Avon, Oct. 21. Center: Khamis Abu-Hasaballah, Ph.D., President of the FVAMC Board of Trustees, with his wife, Noora Brown, M.A., chair of the FVAMC Interfaith Committee. Right of Khamis Abu-Hasaballah, Canon Audrey Scanlan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.

[Episcopal Church in Connecticut] The Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT) has sold its property at 35 Harris Road, Avon, former home to Christ Episcopal Church, to the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center, Inc. (FVAMC).

The sale, for $1.1 million, was completed on Oct. 21.

The building was vacated after the congregation voted in 2012 to dissolve as a parish and close by the end of that year.

The following spring, Bishop Ian T. Douglas and other ECCT staff hosted a meeting of community leaders and interested residents to discern how the property could best be used “as an asset to God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation” in greater Avon and beyond.

At the meeting they learned that the local Muslim community needed a place to gather for prayers, teaching, youth programs and interfaith work. In September 2013, the ECCT entered into an interfaith partnership with FVAMC that included leasing the Avon building.

Since then the FVAMC has reached out to its neighbors with open houses and other interfaith efforts, expanded its worship and service work, and grown its programs, particularly for youth.

The several committees of the ECCT needed to approve the sale gave it their solid endorsement and support.

Both ECCT and the FVAMC share the understanding that the sale isn’t the end of their relationship but the beginning of a new phase in this interfaith collaboration.

Douglas said of the growing relationship between the Episcopal Church in Connecticut and the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center: “I thank God that through the stewardship of our property in Avon we have come into relationship with our Muslim neighbors in the Farmington valley. Together we are learning about what it means to be people of faith working together for peace and understanding. It is a blessing to cooperate with the FVAMC in the development of their new home.”

“We are grateful to our brothers and sisters in the Diocese for their partnership,” said Khamis Abu-Hasaballah, president of the Board of Trustees of the FVAMC. “This house of worship will serve as a foundation for our efforts to continue building bridges with our neighbors, the local community, and other faith traditions. Our relationship with the ECCT serves as a shining example in our region, and as a beacon of hope for inter-religious understanding and cooperation the world over.

The net income from the sale will be returned to the Missionary Society of ECCT, which provides funding for missional work, among other uses.

— Karin Hamilton is the director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.


Comments (6)

  1. Buck Wheaton says:

    You might not be interested in Islam, but Islam is interested in you. Every person in the west should have at least a cursory knowledge of the “Religion of Peace” that insists on forcing you to either “convert, submit or die”.

    If anyone wants to see the level of ritual and rules that govern the life and thought of a faithful Muslim see their classic manual, Reliance of the Traveler:

    I really encourage people to try to read it as well as the Koran, at least once. While the Bible is organized and full of long narrative accounts, the Koran is chaos. The Bible is the story of how truth triumphs over power. The Koran is an attempt to state that power triumphs over all, especially over humanity.

    The issue for our civil society is not that most Muslims are not violent. It is that their religion calls them to be ruthlessly violent towards unbelievers when Islam can be advanced. This has not yet dawned the secular elites in our society.

    People who aid Islam are being “useful idiots.” People who claim to be Christians especially should know better.

    1. Frank Bergen says:

      I don’t know whether to be incensed or embarrassed by Mr. Wheaton’s comments. As a three-year resident of Baghdad in the early 1960’s, where I taught classes composed almost equally of Muslim and Christian high school students, and a student of the history of the modern Arab world, I do not recognize his description of Islam or Muslim people I have known.

  2. Doug Desper says:

    While not politically correct, let’s ask a few questions of Islam. Basic ones. First: Can anyone visit Mecca and worship there? Answer: No. You must be Muslim or your presence defiles the shrine. There are even clearly marked road exits that tells a non-Muslim to not travel to the Mecca shrine; to go around and vacate the area. Does Islam still stone people to death in Saudi Arabia? Still behead? Still cut off hands? Answer: Yes. Sharia Law is acceptable in many Islamic countries. Does Islam, as practiced around the world, punish (even to death) those who want to leave it? Answer: Yes. Is lying and deception to ideological adversaries an acceptable practice in Islam? Answer: Yes. It is called “Al-taqiyya.” Start asking basic questions of Islam.

  3. Livingston Prescott Humboldt IV says:

    So is “missional” another of those meaningless buzzwords for ecclesiastical nonsense?

  4. Richard F. Bautsch says:

    Buck Wheaton is absolutely correct. The concepts of separation of church/mosque and religious pluralism are not only absent from Islam, they are deemed heretical within that religion. I must conclude that Islam is a suppressive, authoritarian, exclusionary political agenda with a theology attached. The Islamic influx into Europe is analagous to the Germanic invasions of Europe in the 5th. century, and much the same result will follow.

    The Western World is committing cultural suicide.

  5. Peter Meyers says:

    How does the Christian world face Islam?! As much as I want to believe Islam is peaceful at its core, my incomplete reading of the Q’ran did not settle my qualms. If we can borrow a page from race relations, being overly PC is not helpful. Honest, lovingingly confrontational, and patient dialog between entities willing to participate at that level. Anything remotely resembling hatred, disrespect, dishonestly, false affability, impatience, or pontificating would block dialog.
    During the Civil Rights Movement, the house of a rabbi, near my own place, was fire-bombed, black churches were burned, and children were murdered, all in the name of Jesus and supposed racial purity. Reaction was a horrified and outraged state, and I don’t mean only Jews, African Americans, and Episcopalians. I mean socially conservative evangelical white Christians. Murder and blasphemy, even to segregationists, went way, way over the line! It shamed us all. An infinitely small percentage of the population, these lunatic fringe hate-mongers, as probably an unforeseen consequence, permanently damaged the already-suffering reputations of city, state, and Christianity.
    If Christianity were judged in terms of the behavior of its tiny minority who are also members of the KKK, we would rightly yell, “Fowl!”
    One of the problems with Islam, as I see it, is that its radical members are not just a tiny minority; its radical jihadist members are numerous, and its victims are, essentially, anyone who is not an ISIL fighter. It is recruiting an army, including radicalized Americans, Africans, and Europeans, intent on world subjugation. Lying and murder in the name of Islam are virtues.
    To dialog with integrity, the playing field needs to be level and the basic ground rules followed to the letter and in their spirit by both parties.
    I know this can and does take place in many large American cities, and I’m sure priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams in almost all cases are informative and promote peaceful relations within the local community. I wonder if that matters to anyone much beside the participants and a few of their congregants..
    Our government (we) forgot vengeance is the Lord’s, sought retribution for 9/11, and got the Islamic tiger by the tail.
    Foolish probably, counterintuitive certainly, and Christian nevertheless, we are called to be Christ for others , to love Muslims as we love ourselves , to discover and love the Christ in them. We are not responsible for how we are responded to. Kindness does often turn away wrath; but it may as easily allow the Islamic tiger to maul us, even kill us. And what of our children?! I have understood my parental role as nurturer, provider, and protector to be a moral imperative of the highest order.
    We have here the horns of a moral dilemma. I would appreciate a great deal more discussion about Islam and our relation to it and to Muslims before I settle this in my mind.
    In the meantime, charity in all things.

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